My Favorite Films of 2012 (& Other’s Faves Too)


A friend in HK conducts an annual movie poll.  To assist, he sends out a link to films released theatrically in Hong Kong during the year.  Given that some films don’t open here until long after they’ve opened in the US, some films on that list have already come and gone by 2012 in the US and UK.  However, I used that list since I’m not good at keeping track of what I’ve seen.

If I wasn’t limiting myself to films released theatrically in 2012, the list would change drastically.  Probably most of the films that I watched this year that I really loved were things I watched on Blu-Ray via the Criterion Collection.

Be that as it may, here’s the list I came up with, in random order.

  • Avengers – Regardless of what you think of comic book movies, this was a terrific accomplishment.  Expertly paced and flawlessly executed.  Though in the end, it is what it is and you either like this sort of thing or you don’t.
  • Dark Knight Rises – One of the few comic movies that actually transcends its genre and is already influencing other films.  Even so, I’m glad Nolan has finished this series.  Hopefully we’ll see some more serious fare from him in the years ahead.
  • The Dictator – Well, I laughed. A lot.
  • Argo – Considered a top contender for the Oscar in 2013.  There are many levels of pleasures to be found here, not the least of which is yet another great performance from Alan Arkin.  But it’s the look of the film that really surprised me.  The hair, the costumes, the make-up, the sets, all perfect. Affleck has now directed 3 feature films and all are excellent.
  • The Muppets – There’s no way I would have predicted I would have liked this film, let alone loved it.  Credit Jason Segel’s knowing screenplay.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Even though they had to remove a lot of stuff to fit a reasonable running time, making the early exposition a bit confusing, Gary Oldman’s performance is one for the ages.
  • Moonrise Kingdom – A lot of people find Wes Anderson twee.  I don’t, though I really disliked Darjeeling Limited.  But I was thoroughly charmed by this.
  • Skyfall – One of those things I put in because I was having trouble coming up with 10.  It’s far too long and doesn’t have a great Bond girl but does have lots of other reasons to watch.
  • Hugo – A 2011 hold-over, I loved this from start to finish.
  • The Artist – Another 2011 hold-over.  I don’t think it deserved its best picture Oscar and I think 20 years from now it will have evaporated from memory.  But I did enjoy it.

There are too many 2012 films that might make this list that I haven’t seen yet that I am really anticipating – Lincoln, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Holy Motors top amongst them.

My friend also asked for a worst picture nominee.  I went with the highest grossing one – Battleship.

A few lists from other people.

A.O.Scott – NY Times (I’ve only seen 1 from this list!)

  1. Amour
  2. Lincoln
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Footnote
  5. The Master
  6. Zero Dark Thirty
  7. Django Unchained
  8. Goodbye First Love
  9. Nieghboring Sounds
  10. The Grey

Manohla Dargis – NY Times (alphabetical order)

  • Amour
  • Deep Blue Sea
  • Gatekeepers
  • Holy Motors
  • The Master
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
  • Searching for Sugar Man
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Stephen Holden – NY Times (yes, he has a top 11)

  1. Lincoln
  2. Amour
  3. Zero Dark Thirty
  4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  5. Argo
  6. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
  7. Elena
  8. How to Survive a Plague
  9. The Invisible War
  10. The Sessions
  11. Rust and Bone

Roger Ebert

  1. Argo
  2. Life of Pi
  3. Lincoln
  4. End of Watch
  5. Arbitrage
  6. Flight
  7. The Sessions
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  9. Oslo, August 31
  10. A Simple Life

So, what were your favorites? Which movies did you love in 2012 that don’t appear on any of the lists above?


4 thoughts on “My Favorite Films of 2012 (& Other’s Faves Too)

  1. Rob

    I will throw a few more into the fray. Looper and The Hobbit both of which would make my top ten. Les Miserables coz it would make my top five. Prometheus for being a disappointing story but excellent craft. Dredd coz nobody notice how good Karl Urbans chin was.

  2. YTSL

    I’m surprised and happy to see Roger Ebert rate “A Simple Life” among his favorite films of 2012. I love it too but saw it in 2011, so didn’t include it in my list of favorites among the films I viewed for the first time in 2012.

    Instead, my 2012 list includes the following:-
    – 13 Assassins (Japan, 2010)
    – A Face in the Crowd (USA, 1957)
    – A Letter to Momo (Japan, 2011)
    – A Separation (Iran, 2011)
    – Argo (USA, 2012)
    – Brave (USA, 2012)
    – Celeste & Jesse Forever (USA, 2012) *will get a commercial release in Hong Kong later this month
    – Cops and Robbers (Hong Kong, 1979)
    – Deadfall (USA, 2012) *ended up going straight to video
    – Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell (France-Cambodia, 2011)
    – Facing Mirrors (Iran, 2011)
    – Floating City (Hong Kong, 2012)
    – Go! Boys’ School Drama Club (Japan, 2011)
    – Here’s to the Young Lady (Japan, 1949)
    – Jiro Dreams of Sushi (USA, 2011)
    – Les Miserables (Britain, 2012)
    – Life of Pi (USA, 2012)
    – McDull: The Pork of Music (Hong Kong, 2012)
    – Network (USA, 1976)
    – Our Homeland (Japan, 2012)
    – Sunny (South Korea, 2011)
    – The Artist (France-Belgium-USA, 2011)
    – The Descendants (USA, 2011)
    – The Guillotines (Hong Kong, 2012)
    – The Muppets (USA, 2011)
    – The Raid: Redemption (Indonesia, 2011)
    – Therma Romae (Japan, 2012)
    – Though I Am Gone (Mainland China, 2006)

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